Thursday, September 27, 2012
Sometimes life can crash into you like an unexpected rogue wave: knocking you down, slamming your body against the sea floor and filling your lungs with the salty water of fear and worry. It then takes your legs out from under you and renders your body numb and your mind blank. On a normal sunny day it is nearly impossible to imagine the panic that comes from being laid off, your entire livelihood taken from you with polite words of consolation and handshakes goodbye. In an instant that stinging saltwater is everywhere and you roll under the wave with no way to know which direction is up.
The drive home is a blur of confusion, anger and dread as you try to clear your head and comprehend what has happened. You do the math to figure out that unemployment will barely cover your mortgage and car payments. Then panic takes over and no matter how tough you are the tears make their way down your cheek.
My wife and I have both been through our share of down-sizes, cut backs, job losses, pink slips, fiscal-mismanagements and the like. But not until having children had there ever been any real significance beyond just ourselves and whether we would eat out that night or not. With kids and on a single-income, the pressure of being without employment was like a vice squeezing our temples. So we both went immediately to work looking for work. The first one to find a job losses and the other would get to stay home with the kiddies.
I’m not sure if they sensed our tension level, but our twins were complete angels through it all. There were completely oblivious smiles and giggles which were amazing for relieving stress and distracting us from resume edits, job hunting and interview preparation. We took shifts, every other day, one of us would look for work and the other would watch the kids, usually with Saturdays off.
Then she got that wonderful state-changing call from the 973 area code. It was to set up a phone interview which was followed by another phone interview, then an in-person, then another in-person, then another drive to the Garden State for what we hoped would be the last of them, then… we waited. Meanwhile I had an interview of my own and the waiting continued.
The word on Friday from the lady in HR was that it was between her and one other person. Then, late Saturday night my wife got the call that she had gotten the job. It was a family record and perhaps a world record for this never-ending recession. We celebrated with sushi and beer, a treat we’d been putting off and basked in the unbelievable good fortune that this wouldn’t be another 53 weeks on unemployment.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
In the tournament of champions that has put my children vs. the ground in all of its hard and unmoving surfaces, the ground has won again. This battle royale put Ruthie back in the ring, this time against her new nemesis, gravel parking lot. Gravel parking lot started out as a friendly surface, in front of our local apple farm, it was decorated with corn stalks, a maze, smiling jack-o-lanterns and picnic tables. We all shared so many smiles and giggles before Ruthie’s round one knock out. At first it was just another fall then the pain shock waves from slamming her head into a piece of gravel hit her nervous system and the shrieks of pain broke the space/time continuum and could be heard as far away as the pumpkin harvest of 1993.
This defeat was like no other we’ve experienced. Immediately and without warning the blood began to flow from her forehead. The sleeve on my wife’s gray sweater was beginning to shine a crimson red in places and the shrieks continued. Luckily, she’s got an awesome and extremely well prepared Dad. I ran to the stroller, pulled out my trusted baby survival kit and ran back to wipe up blood and apply a life-saving Band-Aid to her forehead. It was about ten minutes until she settled down and I must admit, the whole thing was awful but in the end she looked adorable with that Dora the Explorer Band-Aid.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Saturday, September 8, 2012
When I was playing high school basketball the coaches would beat into our heads a defensive stance called ball-you-man. The idea was to always be in between the ball and your man and aware of where both are at all times. If your man moved, you moved. If the ball moved you moved. You were in constant motion to be in position to steal a pass, immediately defend your man as soon as he got the ball or help if the player with the ball drove to the basket.
With two toddling toddlers, I've since adapted this concept to parenting. I call it Baby-You-Other Baby. It is a very good system and is most effective in play grounds, airports or other large spaces with multiple opportunities for medium to large disasters like face-plants, falling from high objects, eating stray garbage, sticks or rocks from the ground.
With twins, it's a bit harder to be a helicopter parent than the parents of only one kid that I've seen chasing their little ones around the park. The Baby-You-Other Baby (BYOB) system does not eliminate ingestion of all stray rocks and unfortunately can't eliminate the stumble-fall-on-the-black-top-black-eye as shown to the right.
In fact, just two weeks ago at the park, the babies had moved into close proximity to each other and I had relaxed from the BYOB stance to have a seat on the curb. I looked up to see a helicopter Mom holding a slow jog behind her two year-old as he scooted over obstacles and slides. She was right behind him with every step, making sure not a stray blade of grass fell on his clothes or a splash of mud stained his shoes. Then, not two minutes after laughing to myself about how crazy she looked and thinking, "why bother, what could possibly happen?" my little Ruthie while running full speed, stumbled over a ball and face-planted right into the black-top like a plane crash landing without it's wheels down. The screams could be heard in the next county and as I scooped her up I realized BYOB might need some work and perhaps a little more helicoptering could have stopped this crash and burn that was now screaming in my arms.